When I returned to England, many people predicted that I would quickly tire of the weather. I had lived in California and Spain for 35 years so their concern was, to them, very well founded. Actually, I was fed up with the sunshine and the sheer predictability of the weather. It would rain on about 10 days each year in California and in Madrid, from June-September, the heat would be unbearable. I really love the surprises each day, I love that the meteorologists get it wrong as frequently as they get it right and I love the contrasts and the beautiful skies.
There is an abandoned lead mine near Sheffield, just outside a village called Castleton. The village is famous for the craftsmen who make jewellery from the local stone Blue John, which can only be found in this specific area. The mine is called Speedwell Cavern and we travelled underground through this mine on a man-made canal, in a small boat, guided by a comedian called Alex. It was a unique way to spend an hour, learning about a bygone era, child slave labour, economic hardship and the greed of the ruling classes. It’s well worth a detour for a visit.
I have just returned from a truly incredible, very emotional cinematic experience. The film is called The Promise and tells the story of the Armenian genocide, conducted, yet still denied, by the Turkish government during the Second World War. It is told through the very personal relationships of several key characters. With themes of love, betrayal, jealousy, moral decline and redemption, this is an epic story, lovingly told and wonderfully performed by the entire cast. The Turkish government have tried to prevent this film from being shown, claiming that the genocide is a lie. You can form your own opinion.
Beauty can spring forth from the darkest places. When Keane vocalist Tom Chaplin had descended to the depths of drug abuse and depression, even to the extent of facing his own death, there was really only one way to go. With a wife and very young daughter, he finally realized that he was going to lose the things that were truly important to him. His recovery has been dramatic and the songs on his debut solo album, The Wave, document with detail, clarity and beauty the process of healing. I was fortunate to attend his Cardiff concert, it was sublime.
Yesterday I saw the new movie Their Finest. This is a story, based on real events, set in the early 40s in war-torn London. It concerns the acknowledgement by the “establishment” that female writers may have some use, at the very least to write the “slop” of feminine perspectives. While working hard on the propaganda machine, Mrs. Cole is drafted into a scriptwriting team, working on a movie about Dunkirk. The movie lovingly portrays her struggles for acceptance in a chauvinistic world, with the tragic backdrop of the blitz. Excellent writing and performances make this a must-see for movie lovers.